Autumn 2014

TenCate and DSM Dyneema: together for the best protection

TenCate and DSM Dyneema, the business unit of DSM where the Dyneema® fibre is produced, are working together on the development and introduction of new materials and protection solutions for the international defence and law enforcement markets. In these markets there is a growing demand for lighter, more comfortable and more cost-efficient protection. Combining knowledge and capacities offers not only these companies but also their customers better products and competitive advantages.

TenCate and DSM Dyneema have already been working closely together for some twenty years or so. The cooperation is based on the materials, technology and years of know-how of the two companies in the field of armour. The combination of these ingredients results in an optimization of solutions for protecting people and material.

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The introduction of materials and solutions often takes place on international platforms such as Milipol and Eurosatory (picture)

The cooperation accelerates new developments, thereby creating better possibilities to satisfy the increasing safety and protection requirements in tenders for government programmes. There is a strongly growing demand for lighter, more comfortable protection, which stems from the modernization of army units (for example Future Soldier programmes), higher risk levels, and missions in (sub-)tropical conditions, such as in Africa.

Protection versus weight
As regards protection, the choice is usually between the same measure of protection at a lower weight or a larger protective surface at the same weight. This plays less of a role when it comes to ships. but it is very important in the case of personal protection and aerospace armour. FMT ensures improved bulletproof characteristics. The basic material is 50% lighter than glass and aramid and as much as 90% lighter than steel. Compared with present armour, a 25% weight reduction is possible – and so ultimately a lighter vehicle. The lighter panels also offer room for the growing trend of incorporating electronic systems. Moreover the force of striking bullets is better absorbed.

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Jean Beugels (left) and Cyril Veillat, respectively programme manager Aerospace and business manager Personal Protection at TenCate Advanced Armour

Applications include personal protection, armour for vehicles and aircraft, and next-generation tactical gear. The applications respond to three important trends: new operational environments, the increasing weight of electronics for situational awareness, and fuel efficiency.
The contribution of TenCate within the collaboration consists of materials, production know-how and in-depth market knowledge of developments, application possibilities and requirements / specifications. At the same time TenCate is unique when it comes to combining the knowledge of armour materials, designing survivability systems and producing on the basis of aerospace standards. ‘Consequently we can operate in the market in the most efficient way when it comes to providing solutions,’ say Jean Beugels and Cyril Veillat, respectively programme manager Aerospace and business manager Personal Protection at TenCate Advanced Armour. ‘It’s true that DSM Dyneema sells its products to others as well, but we are actually involved in the development at an early stage. The advantage is that we have a total solution in our hands earlier and have already been able to complete the qualifications. This gives us a headstart. For DSM Dyneema the collaboration means increased competitiveness through acceleration of the “time to market”. For certain applications we can also work together on the technology in order to improve the know-how relating to their products and ours.’
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Even when market conditions are less favourable it is important to continue innovating. Furthermore innovation is essential because of the EN 9100 standard, which makes continuous improvement obligatory: ‘That you are constantly seeking new solutions sends out an important signal.’ In addition the same trend is occurring in the vehicle market as in armour for aircraft: whoever supplies an original equipment manufacturer must satisfy high quality demands and have a broad financial basis. ‘The support of a large company is important, which means small companies drop out. It’s one of the reasons why the market share of TenCate Advanced Armour is rising under the present market conditions with shrinking government budgets. Cooperation with strong partners in the market is one of spearheads of the TenCate strategy to realize accelerated sales growth.’

Blue fabric (Tecawork Blue 65287)